Waikato Regional Council is due to begin a review of the region’s bus network to increase passenger numbers in the short term, as well as the amount collected in fares.
The strategic review of Waikato region’s bus network is expected to be completed over the next 12-18 months.
The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) will partially fund the independent review and a competitive tender process is now underway ahead of the contract being awarded by the end of this month.
Council policy and transport group manager Vaughan Payne said the review would take into account urban and rural land use, population and demographic changes.
A key objective of the review is to identify a method for prioritising spending on public transport. This will involve looking at the existing network to identify which routes are well used and those that are not.
“The NZTA, which funds 50 per cent of public transport, has very clear objectives for the country’s public bus services and it is essential our network is efficient, effective and demand driven.
“As part of this network review we will be looking for ways to increase passenger numbers in the short term, as well as the amount collected in fares, to meet the NZTA’s expectations.
“While this emphasis is likely to continue, we also need to plan to meet the future needs of the region,” Mr Payne said.
It is anticipated that different criteria will be developed for urban and rural areas to ensure a balanced regional approach is maintained. “During this review we will consult with stakeholders, including the city and district councils and the disability sector.”
Mr Payne said the council has worked hard with the contracted bus operators, as well as city and district councils to provide passengers with a reliable, comfortable and friendly service.
“It’s not going to be perfect all of the time, but with almost five million passenger trips being made on the region’s buses in 2010/11 and passenger satisfaction at 98 per cent, we are clearly doing plenty of things right.
“Just in Hamilton city passenger numbers have gone from 1.5 million in 2002/03 to 4.5 million in 2010/11 and patronage continues to grow, with year to date figures showing a rise of 4.76 per cent on the previous financial year,” he said.